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The New Arab

Iraqi parliament urged to protect women from domestic abuse

Women's rights campaigners have long called for tougher punishments against domestic abuse [AFP]

Date of publication: 21 March, 2017

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Human Rights Watch have called on Baghdad to make changes to anti-violence laws, which would protect Iraqi women from domestic abuse and punish offenders.
Tough anti-domestic abuse laws should be enacted by Baghdad to protect Iraqi women from violence at home, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday.

The call came as Iraqi lawmakers completed their review of the anti-domestic violence law draft, which was introduced two years ago.

Amendments to the law could protect Iraqi women from abuse and save lives, the human rights group said.

At least a third of women are subject to some form of abuse at home, according to government statistics.

"A strong domestic violence law could help save Iraqi women's lives," said Rothna Begum, Middle East women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The Iraqi parliament should make sure the final bill includes essential provisions to prevent domestic violence, protect survivors, and prosecute the abusers."
 
Estimates on the number of Iraqi women subjected to domestic abuse widely vary, with a 2012 government study suggesting that at least 36 percent were exposed to pyschological abuse at home.

Six percent reported domestic physical violence, while nine percent said they had been sexually abused.

Human Rights Watch said these numbers could be cut with the introduction of tough anti-domestic violence laws and harsher sentences for abusers.

Researchers pointed out that a major problem with current laws is its emphasis on reconcilation rather than prosecution of offenders.

"By promoting family reconciliation as an alternative to justice, the draft law undermines protection for domestic violence survivors," Begum said.

"The government should send a message that beating up your wife won’t be treated leniently through mediation sessions, but instead be regarded as a crime."

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